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Garage sale at UBM

Gabe Moretti, Senior Editor

A couple of the most iconic titles in the EDA industry, both Us and Asia EE Times and EDN, have been sold together with ESM, Embedded, EBN, TechOnline and Datasheets.com for a mere $23.5 million to Arrow Electronics.  The publications and portals generated a total income of $19 million in 2015.  This means that Arrow paid just $4.5 million more than one-year revenue for the package.

That UBM, an otherwise successful British company, had lost interest in the publications was obvious to me as early as 2003 when I was a full time employee of EDN.  UBM was not interested in new creative ways to grow, insisting on bottom line results instead.  The publications have tried new things while forced to stay on an unrealistic budget, but the publishing revolution required investments, not profits at all costs.

So staff left, slowly but surely, with just a few good and brave professionals, dedicated to the brand left to save the fort.  And those who left, became the competition, contributing to make things even more difficult.

I suppose that Datasheets.com can contribute almost immediately to Arrows income, but what of the publication? Last year, Arrow acquired the United Technical Publishing arm of Hearst Media.  The company official press release states that: With this agreement with UBM, Arrow strengthens its position as a foremost thought leader and trusted advisor in IoT and technology design trends.”   Clearly the strategy is that the publishing arm will convince the readers to purchase from Arrow.  But those publications cover a lot of material that you cannot purchase from Arrow, like EDA tools and IP products.

Will the present staff stay?  Aside for a continuing salary what are the prospects?  If Arrow fails it will be too late to leave, so how long do they have to create a new publishing strategy?  Is there one that has yet to be tried?  The problem, as I see it, is that they are competing with a number of publications that have a very low overhead.  Does that mean significant numbers of layoffs?

Arrow’s strategy is new, and thus unproven.  What remains to be seen is what contents these publications will carry in order to fulfill the plan.

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